Recently we went to a talk at one of my children’s schools. It was given by an ‘Old Boy’ which is a confusing term in itself, as the boy was no more than 20, but to my nine year old he must have seemed very old indeed.

The boy was there to inspire the kids about his travels and adventures, during his Gap Year. I am not sure if this happens in America, but in England it’s a year where the kids catch their breath, after school, before university.

The talk had been advertised in glowing terms, the boy had really been to the end of the earth and back, suffered terrible things and survived. Perfect. My boys love nothing more than adventure, with suffering and survival.

The boy, let’s give him a name, Harry, had left England for the first time. Harry travelled to a faraway island, in the middle of pretty much nowhere, surrounded by a deep ocean, which had no access to it other than by boat. There would be no doctor or dentist, limited electricity, certainly a lack of fresh produce and a good’s boat that would only dock once a week.

Hhmmmm, sounds pretty much like home, I thought.

Harry was going to help build a new addition to the primitive school on the island. Harry learnt how to use a long sharp machete “Look” whispered my nine year old “It looks like the one you gave me for my birthday last year” Harry cut a clearing through the bush and jungle, unfortunately the mosquitoes bit him so ferociously and the humidity was so intense that the bites became infected “We know what happens next” said my 13 year old. Low and behold, the next slide on Harry’s presentation was of blistering boils.

Harry was undeterred, even finding he had to share his sleeping bag with a snake, check his shoes for scorpions and wrestle his socks from the claws of a gigantic land crab, Harry carried on. One of my children began to doze off. 

Harry then had to face the unimaginable. A hurricane. The little island Harry was living on was at sea level, all of his good work could be washed away with one slap from Mother Nature. Harry helped the locals prepare for the storm. Tying down any object that could be lifted by the great winds, hauling all fishing boats out of the water, shuttering up the simple wooden shacks…….

I could almost hear my boys’ eyes rolling. On the tiny island where we live every year my children help make preparations for our three month hurricane period. 

Harry’s talk came to a close. Everyone clapped. My boys looked non-plussed. Having grown up on a speck of an island in the tropics means that suffering and survival for them needs to involve at the very least a shark bite or two but a good murder would be acceptable.